One day at work, I was assisting a cheery young woman. To paint a picture: she was mousy of coloring, freckled complexion, hair in no particular style, and glowingly positive which, when you work with people, is a rare jewel. She was the sort of person you'd have a rapport with instantly, no matter who you were and what your own personality was like. It was a pleasure to serve her. As we were talking through the transaction and making eye contact, I noticed that her complexion seemed darker around her jaw and chin--the kind of thing you'd probably only really see if that area of the face was of personal significance to you. And then, of course, it was all I could see. There was no point in which I could get close enough to really tell, but I became more and more convinced that it was beard shadow.
But what is the protocol for asking? There just isn't one. I was burning to ask, and she seemed like she would have been frank with me. But I had to think about how I would feel if it were me being asked.
If it were one of those days (as it has been lately) where I had fought with my face all morning to hide my secret and struggle to even leave the house and go about my day, someone asking me, "Hey, are you hirsute?" would probably be devastating. Was it that obvious? Does everybody notice but no one has the guts to ask? I'd probably slink home and crawl under my covers for the rest of the day, feeling sorry for myself.
However, if it was a good day, and I felt confident... I don't know, maybe I'd be relieved. Maybe I'd sigh like a weight had been lifted off me and say, "Yes! Oh thank goodness, yes!" I'd be excited to meet someone who was aware of the issue. And I bet this is more the case for me than it used to be. I get closer all the time to telling people I wouldn't necessarily trust implicitly. As I begin to see that there is no "fix" for the symptoms, it's becoming clear that my beard is just a part of me, like my near sightedness or that freckle on my butt. It makes me no less a woman, it just makes me me. If only I could feel like that all the time...